Main Trail Head 5

Red Hill Bowl or King Street

View Larger Map

This entrance is located at the end of the parking lot of the Red Hill Bowl. Follow the trail under King Street past the baseball diamonds in the Red Hill Bowl.


In the early twentieth century, accepted practice had municipal storm and sanitary sewers combined carrying wastes to the sewage treatment plant.  During storms, strategically placed relief points called overflows discharged sanitary sewage and stormwater directly to our creeks and lakes.  The impact of the sewage was diluted by the storm runoff.  Over time we have become increasingly aware of the environmental damage of these combined sewer overflows (CSO).  The innovative solution used here in the Red Hill Valley collects excess combined sewage in tanks to prevent it from discharging into the creek in all but the worst storms and sends it to the sewage treatment plant after the storm.  This solution, while costly to build and maintain, is still more economical than physically separating the sewer network.

Before the Red Hill Creek Valley project, there were several major outfalls of combined sewage.  As well, a … m diameter sewer flowed along the valley to the treatment plant. Now a … km long and … m diameter pipe extending from King St. to Rennie Street holds overflow during all but the largest storms predicted to be twice a year.  Near this location is one of the three outfalls which overflow when the tunnel’s storage capacity is reached.

What is the King’s Forest?

King’s Forest is a topographically diverse area with contains a cooler microclimate supporting rich forest growth including hardwoods and conifers. Regionally uncommon plant species (what are they?) are associated with seepage along the toe of slopes. King’s Forest is one of the largest remaining blocks of natural forest in Hamilton. It contains “interior forest” that is more that 100 metres from any edge. Migratory songbirds that require deeper forest are found here including Scarlet Tanager, American Redstart, Hairy Woodpecker, Brown Creeper, Black-and-white Warbler, and Ovenbird.  Other wildlife including Southern Flying Squirrel (a species of “Special Concern” in Ontario and Canada) Grey Squirrel, Garter Snake and Brown Snake occur in this area. It was first named Sherwood Forest, in reference to the tales of Robin Hood, but the name was later changed to honor the king of England.

An Early Iroquoian (A.D. 800-A.D. 1300) site was located within the King’s Forest Park. The people in that small village planted some corn, lived according to clans and began to develop hold council meetings to resolve their differences. Their core villages were surrounded by smaller camps and hamlets in order to hunt, gather and fish. The Haudenosaunee is a matriarchal society with families organized into clans along female blood lines: three representing animals of the land (deer, wolf, bear); three of the waters (beaver, turtle, eel); and three of the skies (hawk, heron, snipe). Each clan was headed by a female leader, known as a Goyaneh (Clan Mother), and male leader, known as a Hoyaneh (Chief).

Dish With One Spoon

The natural shape of the Red Hill Bowl recalls the Haudenosaunee concept of the “Dish with One Spoon.” They envisioned the woods, meadows and creeks as one large bowl in which the bounty of nature can be enjoyed equally. They agreed not to fight with other Indigenous nations over hunting. People were free to take what they needed to feed their families, as long as they respect each other and the game by not over hunting. By 1701 nearly all of southern Ontario was considered the Beaver Hunting Grounds of the Haudenosaunee. The indigenous people may have played lacrosse in the open fields nearby. They also had other games, such as the hoop and javelin in which a small hoop was rolled on the ground and players tried to throw a wooden javelin through it as it rolled. While the games have changed, the intention is still the same – players display their skills to the delight of the crowd.  Today, the Red Hill Bowl is used for sports and recreation.

Lacrosse is an ancient Iroquoian game, played for sport, to settle disputes and to entertain the people. It also had spiritual connotations, as the Haudenosaunee believed that lacrosse was the Creator’s favorite game. The original sticks were made of hickory, with a large woven netting to catch and throw the ball. The game was adopted as Canada’s official national sport in 1974. Today, smaller wood or plastic sticks are used. The Iroquois Nationals represent the Haudenosaunee in International lacrosse, a sport in which Team Canada has always been very competitive.

Rechanneling an Ancient Creek

The old bridge abutments were causing a problem for the fish. The abutments were too narrow, forcing the creek to constrict and impeding the flow of the water. This also made it difficult for fish to make their way upstream to spawn. The Red Hill Valley Project widening some of the bridge abutments, but also re-set the creek, moving it to its former location, so as to create a more naturalized flow. The route through the valley that the Red Hill Creek followed from the upper escarpment to Lake Ontario changed several times over hundreds of years.  One of these ancient creek beds called paleo channels waschosen for the new alignment of the creek. The fill excavated from the paleo channel was used to fill the pre-2006 creek bed.  Riverbank “sod mats” were recycled as much as possible and replaced along the new creek channel. Local grasses and shrubs weighing several tons were lifted and placed here. This provided immediate stability to the slopes and minimized the environmental disruption to the valley. Management of run off water allows for storing water for irrigation on the King’s Forest Golf Course.

Rail Bridges

For the descendants of the Loyalist settlers, crossing the valley became a challenge. As the railroad industry developed, a number of rail bridges were erected. Several of the bridges can be seen in this area. The railroad allowed for the movement of goods in larger quantities over longer distances. It created great economic growth for the Hamilton region.

“The Great Western Railway [in the 1850s] located its main yards, repair shop, and rolling mill along the western harbor front. The presence of this railway complex, in turn, attracted many of the region’s metalworking firms to this area. Other industries, including oil refineries, soap factories, tanneries, and meat packers, located farther to the east, at the end of several marshy inlets where they had easy access to rail and water connections and to supplies of water. (Ken Cruikshank Nancy B. Bouchier. Blighted Areas And Obnoxious Industries: Constructing Environmental Inequality On An Industrial Waterfront, Hamilton, Ontario, 1890–1960)